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Why Are Women’s Sizes all so different?

After shopping from store to store, if you’re anything like me you will have bought a different size at each store. It’s a common complaint among all women that the sizing between brands isn’t constant, but did you know there is a historical explanation for that? 

In the Industrial Revolution, the fashion industry was going through many innovations including the water frame, power loom, chain stitch machine, and many more. In 1859, Isaac Singer made the first sewing machine with a foot treadle which allowed for the mass production of clothing pieces. Then in 1861, the Civil War started. 

The Civil war increased the demand for uniforms quickly, thus more factories focused on manufacturing men’s uniforms. This made the civil war into a huge size study for men and these sizes began to be wildly accepted across factories. Then the questions remains, why haven’t there been any size studies of women? 

To answer that question, there have been size studies of women. These size studies are expensive and take a long time and with the changes of time, the ideal image of a woman’s body has changed. In 2020, it is acceptable now to have a big butt and nice curves or a more muscular and fit body. This wasn’t always the case. So what was a size medium for women 50 years ago might not be the correct dimensions for the women of today. Women’s bodies also change a lot through their lifetime with developing, pregnancies, and lifestyle changes. This makes it hard to have one true size for women. 

As a result, with the lack of women’s size standards brands will develop their own size standards for women. So a size 14 at American Eagle can fit completely different than a size 14 at Zara. 

(she/her) Madison Thompson is a junior at The University of Missouri- Columbia and has direct admission into the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism School. She is an older sister and loves to read and write. In addition to Journalism, Madison loves creative writing. Madison has a self-published poetry book titled "The Journey". Her Poem Supermarket was a finalist in the 2019 KET writing contest.
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